The Telegraph has a lengthy profile of Rachel Smith, Vince Cable’s wife.
If cows can be considered to have a casting vote, then Hopeful and Caramel have done their bit to make sure Rachel Smith sees more of her husband in the future. The wife of the business secretary, Vince Cable, is a farmer with a dwindling beef herd in the middle of the New Forest. For months she has been trying to get these two Dexters in calf. The bull has visited; the artificial insemination man has been summoned with his catheter, but the two ladies remain resolutely and mystifyingly barren.
She comments on the horsemeat scandal:
When she lived in Holland, where her first husband was working in the early Seventies, she tried horse meat. “Horses are extremely clean feeders and their meat is lean. I found it rather dense and flavourless. Here, most horses are eaten by dogs, either raw or cooked and canned. However, my old riding pony was buried in our bluebell wood with a tree planted over her. Ditto my old border collie. My last cat has daffodils on top. It is a matter of pets versus livestock.
“I’m not planning to go into horse meat production instead of beef, but I see no ethical reason why not.”
The crux of the matter, she argues, is that food products should be properly labelled: “Banning imports is not helpful.” As it happens, Vince’s 10-year-old grandson, Ayrton, is the poster boy for a Compassion in World Farming campaign to require all meat products to be labelled to say how the animal was reared.
Rachel provides some insights into life at home:
Though Cable was one of the Liberal Democrats’ best minds, and a clever parliamentary practitioner, he was not exactly a public figure when they met. Even after he became deputy to Nick Clegg, there were proper weekends; time for romance; space for a suburban man to learn country ways. If one of the cows was having a difficult birth, Cable would be handed a grubby rope and told to pull. Back then, Rachel did not have to remember to wear gloves for dirty jobs as she does now because “you never quite know when you might have to go to a banquet with the Queen”.
… and wardrobe malfunctions:
On the question of personal appearance, she sounds mildly exasperated. “He doesn’t allow the time for clothes or shoes. We have a crisis over shoes from time to time. I can’t get him to stop for long enough to go into a shoe shop. They once rang from his office to report a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. He’d been out, got soaked and his shoes were wearing thin. When he took them off, he had a hole in his sock as well. His diary secretary felt moved to email me. I don’t know what I was supposed to do from here.”
* Mary Reid is the Tuesday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.